Another plastic surgeon

Dear Editor

Air Vice-Marshall Chris Elliot writes about the Guinea Pig club (Letters page, July 22 edition) and the pioneering work done by plastic surgeon Sit Archibald McIndoe on injured airmen in the second World War.

I would like to draw your readers attention to another surgeon who did pioneering work of this type, Sir Harold Delf Gillies. He was born in New Zealand, but during the war worked at Rooksdown House, part of the Park Prewett Hospital. During this time and after the war he trained many doctors from the Commonwealth in plastic surgery.

Between the wars Harold Gillies established a private practice and persuaded his cousin, Sir Archibald McIndoe to join him. He also suggested that he apply for a post at St Bartholomews Hospital. It was at this point that McIndoe became committed to plastic surgery, at which they both became pre-eminent.

I was unaware of this man’s distinguished contribution to the work of re-building the faces and lives of the injured airmen until I saw the bust of Sir Harold in the War Memorial Park.

I suspect many others are similarly unaware of this distinguished man and his connection with Basingstoke which seems to me to be a shame.

Julia Townsend-Rose, Cliddesden Road

Continue to exercise caution

Dear Editor,

With many of the national Covid-19 restrictions now eased and a cautious return to freedoms we have long been missing, I would like to take the opportunity to thank your readers for all that they have done over the past year and more, and for the personal sacrifices made to keep each other and our communities safe across Hampshire.

The past months have been the most challenging that many of us can remember. Significant personal sacrifices have been made by thousands of local people –from our social care and health workers, to our teachers and educational support staff –and of course the many families who have been unable to visit loved ones in care homes, and everyone who has lost someone close to them to the pandemic.

It is to these residents, as well as the legions of community volunteers and the hundreds of thousands who have played their part by staying at home, getting tested and vaccinated, self-isolating, wearing face coverings and much more, to whom I would like to extend my sincere thanks. Of course, the virus remains with us and the numbers testing positive are once again rising rapidly, so while we enjoy returning to a semblance of normality, I would urge the public to continue to exercise caution and to maintain the very helpful practices we have become so used to.

Doing this will help us to keep well and prepare for what may be a very challenging autumn and winter.

Councillor Keith Mans, Leader of Hampshire County Council

Can we take the heat?

Dear Editor,

North America’s deadly heatwaves with record-breaking temperatures of 54.4C (130F) creating extreme draughts and raging wild fires that cost lives and overwhelm hospitals due to climate change should be a wake-up call to the world.

The UK is already experiencing extreme weather conditions - heatwaves, storms, flooding and rising sea levels eroding coastlines all effects of climate change with consequences on lives and livelihoods.

The government’s own advisers on climate change have warned that the UK is less prepared for a climate catastrophe now than it was five years ago and Boris Johnson is failing to deliver on his promises of action according to Greenpeace.

At the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) world leaders must come together and agree on ambitious action. We need all countries to have emissions reduction targets and plans, reflecting their level of economic development, which aligns them with the target of limiting global heating to 1.5C. Polluting companies and countries must not be allowed to offset emissions and instead they should prioritise reducing fossil fuel emissions to zero while strongly protecting our forests and oceans. We need urgent action, otherwise, expect climate change to get worse.

Will Boris Johnson commit to convert his promises into action or continue to wave his Party Manifesto on climate change which he has done nothing about?

Jeannette Schael, Crookham Close, Tadley

Basingstoke Bridge Club

Dear Editor,

After many months, there will be a grand opening of Basingstoke Bridge Club when we finally meet face to face again to play bridge on Wednesday, August 4. This will be huge especially for those people who have not been able to play online, many of the members being quite elderly and not up to speed with today’s technology. For many, the bridge club is their life and it has sorely been missed by many.

The bridge club is one of the best clubs in the area and continues to grow and expand their teaching sessions which start again in September.

Anne Todd, Basingstoke

Importance of farm safety

Dear Editor,

The farming industry has a woeful safety record, which stubbornly shows little sign of improvement, with sobering statistics presented each year.

Agriculture has the worst rate of worker fatal injury of the main industrial sectors. It is 18 times as high as the average rate across all industries. Statistics for 2020-2021 show there were 34 deaths in agriculture, forestry and fishing, an increase of 13 from last year. The five-year average for fatal injuries in this sector is 28.

There is no getting away from the fact that farming can be dangerous. The most common causes of death include falling from a height, struck by moving vehicle, trapped by something collapsing/overturning and contact with moving machinery.

Farmers are often short on time, rushing from one job to the next, which can lead to shortcuts or the neglect of safe practices. Some farmers can also be guilty of taking a perverse pride in the number of overtime hours they work. These factors, combined with what is sometimes a cavalier attitude to safety, is a dangerous combination.

It is not just farmers at risk; each year there are cattle-related incidents involving members of the public walking on farmland with and without dogs. The impact of the global pandemic with more people accessing the countryside has only heightened this risk. Farmers and landowners should look to mitigate the risk of these incidents by carrying out risk assessments when contemplating where to graze their cattle, particularly on fields accessible to the public via a Right of Way. Signage can help improve public awareness and electric fencing can separate cattle.

CLA South East represents thousands of farmers, landowners and rural businesses in Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight. We would like to see safety built into the mind-set of every farmer, who continually assess and evaluate the risks they and others are exposed to as they go about their day.

This is Farm Safety Week, but it is not just important for one week of the year. “Come home safe” should be the message all farmers give themselves as they leave the breakfast table.

Michael Valenzia, Regional Director of CLA South East